In re Trust of Ashton

A beneficiary of a trust under the will of Augustus Ashton was entitled to a fixed sum each year. Other beneficiaries, such as the University of Pennsylvania, were entitled to far larger and variable sums under the same trust. The trustee filed interim accounts for about 35 years of administration of the trust and the beneficiary at issue filed objections, claiming self-dealing, impermissible fees, and arguing against splitting the trust, which had grown from $2 million to $73 million. Notwithstanding any of the beneficiary’s claims, she received her annuity and there was no realistic possibility that should would not receive it at any time in her life. Nonetheless, the Orphan’s Court judge overruled the trustee’s preliminary objection challenging the beneficiary’s standing, claiming that she had essentially automatic standing as a beneficiary. The Superior Court held that she lacked standing. Relying on traditional norms of standing requiring the beneficiary to show that the challenged conduct caused harm to her, the Court found that the beneficiary failed to carry her burden.

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